African Food Changemakers News
Hidden Harvests: Unlocking the Power of African Women in Agriculture by Celebrating Achievements and Shaping Future Leaders

In a landscape where African women are the unsung heroes of agriculture, their extraordinary contributions often go unnoticed. Recent research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAB), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reveals a stark reality: only 13% of agricultural news stories feature women as primary sources, dropping to a mere 7% in Sub-Saharan Africa. The gap extends to awards, conferences, and recognition, hindering the progress and sustainable development of the agricultural landscape on the continent.


Recognising the urgent need to bridge this gap, African Food Changemakers (AFC) launched the Leading African Women in Food Fellowship (LAWFF) in 2023. This program, aligning with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and funded by the SKOLL Foundation, was born out of a commitment to amplify, champion, and advance the work of African women changemakers. Ndidi Nwuneli, Founder & Executive Chair of African Food Changemakers, emphasizes a critical challenge, stating, "The fellowship was established to address the limited participation of female voices in agricultural dialogues across diverse platforms, including conferences, and to provide support in overcoming the challenges they encounter throughout their careers."


In the inaugural year of 2023, LAWFF empowered over 25 Women Fellows through intensive training, mentorship, visibility enhancement, media advocacy, and strategic connections. These fellows actively participated in industry events, enriching discussions with invaluable insights. A remarkable pool of 640 inspiring leaders from 12 African countries were nominated. AFC further magnified the impact of these extraordinary women by nominating them for prestigious international and local speaking engagements, such as the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) in Tanzania, the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023, and the Creative Africa Nexus 2023 (CANEX). Reflecting on her experience, a 2023 fellow shared, "The program provided a wealth of knowledge, facilitated valuable connections with industry leaders, and nurtured collaborative partnerships among the fellows."

Amidst the celebration of International Women's Day, the Founder, Ndidi Nwuneli, proudly unveiled the 2024 cohort, comprising 31 distinguished fellows across five dynamic categories: Disruptors, Trailblazers, Food & Beverage Narrative Changers, Top Chefs in Africa, and Ecosystem Enablers. This exciting announcement occurred on Friday, March 8, 2024, during a virtual launch in collaboration with Sahel Consulting. The event featured esteemed speakers from the private and development sectors across Africa, such as Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhim, Dr. Maureen Miruka, Ms Heather Akanni, aligning with this year's IWD theme: "Inspire Inclusion."


The selection process for these exceptional fellows was rigorous, involving meticulous nomination, thorough screening, and a comprehensive review by an independent selection committee comprised of distinguished leaders in the gender equality movement and the food ecosystem. Each fellow represents a beacon of excellence and innovation, embodying the spirit of progress and inclusivity within the agrifood system.


LAWFF represents the latest effort by the African Food Changemakers to support agri-food entrepreneurs in Africa. Since 2019, the organisation has successfully implemented programs impacting over 22,718 young entrepreneurs across the agriculture value chain. The LAWFF program, with its transformative potential, is not just recognising outstanding achievements but also shaping a future where African women in agriculture shine, paving the way for a more inclusive and sustainable agricultural landscape.

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